Air Force E-3F AWACS capable of using Next Generation L16 Tactical Datalink

The L16 [ou Liaison 16] is a tactical liaison standard defined by NATO to enable the exchange of complex tactical information [et chiffrées] between different units, whether air, land or naval. And, today, it is almost essential to participate in coalition operations and, of course, for “network warfare”.

To outline, the link 16 consider two types of platforms: “C2” [pour commandement et contrôle]including E-3 Awacs, E-2C Hawkeyes or air defense frigates [FDA] and the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, and the “non-C2”, which are part of a network as a “sensor” and/or “weapon” [avions de combat, par exemple]. It should be noted that some French platforms are not equipped with Link 16: such is the case of the Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft and the NH-90 NFH shipborne helicopters.

However, in order to meet growing needs, the L16 will evolve. Hence the need to install new terminals on board the four E-3F AWACS aircraft of the 36th Airborne Command and Control Wing of the Air and Space Force. [AAE]in particular the MIDS-LVT BU2 [Multifunctional Information Distribution System-Low Volume Terminal Block Upgrade 2]produced by the EuroMIDS consortium, of which Thales is a member.

“This terminal offers high-capacity digital communication links, resistant to interference, that allow the exchange of secure tactical information in real time on the Liaison 16 network”, explains the French industrialist, who was appointed by the General Management of Armament [DGA] and Air France Industries to integrate this “MIDS-LVT BU2” on board the E-3Fs, which are currently in high demand for surveillance missions carried out on NATO’s eastern flank.

After two years of joint work with the AAE, the two designated manufacturers and their specialization and testing centers, the DGA announced that it has just qualified the MIDS-LVT BU2.

“During this phase, the DGA’s center for expertise and tests of the Master’s in Information of the DGA intervened to deal with the security aspect of the information systems. [SSI], the DGA Project Engineering center examined the flight authorization, temporary work authorization and qualification files for the integration of MIDS BU2 in AWACS. Finally, several flights were carried out by the DGA Flight Test Center, which made it possible to verify the integration and correct operation of the terminal”, he explained.

Once this step is completed, the launch of this new system should be announced soon. At least before the start of the Allied Tactical Leadership Course exercise [ATLC]which will take place this fall in the United Arab Emirates.

Photos: 1/ AAE 2/ Thales

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